Isolating at home when you have COVID-19

If you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 10 days.

What to do

Get tested if you feel sick

If you have health insurance, contact your healthcare provider to get a test. You can also make an appointment at a City-run testing site.

You should stay home while waiting for test results.

Stay home until you feel better

Do not go to work. Do not leave your home unless you are getting healthcare. Do not allow visitors into your home, unless they are coming to care for you.

Rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you have COVID-19, staying well hydrated may help prevent dangerous blood clots.

You may take acetaminophen (like Tylenol) to reduce fever and pain. Do not give any medicines to children under 2 without first checking with a doctor. 

Limit contact with people you live with

Stay in your own room, if you can. 

Use a separate bathroom, if you can. If you share a bathroom:

  1. Turn on fans that pull air out of the bathroom.
  2. Open windows.
  3. Wear a face covering.
  4. Flush the toilet with the lid closed. 
  5. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  6. Wipe down anything you touched with a disinfectant.

Do not prepare or serve food to others. Keep your own set of utensils, plates, towels, bedding, or other household items. Do not share them.

Limit your contact with pets.

Follow personal hygiene and cleaning tips for staying healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Wear a face covering, or have others wear a face covering around you.

You can ask friends or loved ones to help

If people ask if they can help, they can:

  • Leave food and drinks at your door
  • Get you medicine to relieve symptoms
  • Help care for children, parents, or other dependents
  • Help care for your pets

If friends and family come to help, remind them to wear a face covering and wash their hands.

If you test positive for COVID-19

Remember who was physically close to you

Try to remember who you had close contact with in the 48 hours before you took your COVID-19 test. They must quarantine themselves at their home

Close contacts include anyone who:

  • Lives with you or stayed overnight with you
  • You have sex with
  • Takes care of you 
  • You take care of
  • Stayed within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or more
  • Had direct contact with your body fluids, including coughs or sneezes

A Public Health worker will contact you

If you test positive, a trained Public Health worker will contact you. We may call or text from 628-217-6101 or 628-217-6102. We will never ask for your social security number, financial information, or your immigration status.

We will ask about your close contacts. We can then reach out to everyone who might have been exposed.

When you can stop your isolation

You can stop your isolation when all of the following are true: 

  • Your temperature has gone under 100.4° Fahrenheit (38.0° Celsius) for the past 24 hours, without medicine like acetaminophen
  • Your symptoms have gotten better
  • It’s been at least 10 days after your first symptoms

Your doctor may tell you to isolate at home for longer, depending on your health history.

If you test positive but don’t feel sick, stay home for at least 10 days after you took your test.

You do not need to have a negative COVID-19 test to go back to work. You can show your employer the signed letter about not needing a negative test, from San Francisco’s Health Officer.

If your COVID-19 test comes back negative

If you test negative but still feel sick, stay at home for 10 days after you first felt sick. 

If you live with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay home for 14 days after they finished their isolation. This often means you must stay home for at least 3 weeks total.

See guidance from the Department of Public Health

See Isolation and Quarantine Guidance by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in English中文العربيةFilipinoEspañol, Русский, 한국어.

See guidance on leaving isolation and returning to work

Download the Health Officer’s signed letter about returning to work, in English, 中文, Pilipino, Español.

See flyer about free services if you need help isolating or quarantining.

Special cases

Children or people with special needs

People who need care do not need to isolate themselves at home.

Workers in skilled nursing facilities

You have more strict criteria for returning to work. See guidance for long term care facilities from the Department of Public Health.

Get help



Get help with food, housing, or other needs.

Isolation and Quarantine Support

Get free help self-isolating.

Case investigation team

If you test positive, we’ll call you. We will never ask for your social security number, financial information, or your immigration status.

Last updated September 03, 2020